Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tears from the Past... part 3

Here are parts 1 and 2.....

To this day, I cannot walk through a hospital without being drawn back to those hazy memories of being 8 and 9... I instantly feel a sense of something I should remember, but can't quite grasp completely. Flashes of sitting quietly on padded waiting room chairs. The aromas of a hospital cafeteria (which smells like no other place on Earth) immediately bring visions of a small girl being brought to a Chicago hospital's cafeteria as a diversionary tactic. A place away from a grandmother who could no longer talk after her surgery. A place where sisters could be away from wondering what was REALLY going on...And always, without fail, I attempt to make my brain go there. To go back to being that child, seeing what I saw and hearing what was said. Sadly, my subconscious is still protecting me, and I cannot force new memories to the surface. They remain cold and quiet at the bottom of my brain's pool...

What would I remember, if only I could? Would my childish eyes have registered what my woman's heart wants to know? And what is it, exactly, that I DO want to know? Do I really want to see the pain in my father's face? The grief in my mother's eyes as she watched her husband fight a battle her own beloved mother had recently lost? The stress that must have encompassed the house? The fear?

To say that we were lucky that my dad beat cancer is almost laughable. Lucky... yes. That 3 girls got to know and love their daddy is lucky. That a family wasn't prematurely broken by death is lucky. That my children know their Papa is lucky, indeed.

Not everyone is lucky. Not every cancer can be beaten. Not every family gets to grow old together... To say that this is unfair is like saying the sky is blue. As every mother throughout eternity has declared to her whining children, "Life isn't fair. Whoever told you that Life was Fair?"

Every experience presents opportunities for growth. I believe my early exposure to the fragility of life started me on this journey of accepting my own mortality, and that of those I love beyond the capabilities of my expressions on this blog. I pride myself on the fact that I never take things for granted. When I find myself feeling content and bored, even, I remember to take a deep breath of gratitude.

This Christmas, I am grateful for the crooked tree with a CAT train running beneath its branches. I am grateful for the squeals of joy my children emit, watching the engine pull their Papa's train. No phrase could possibly capture the humble gratitude I feel for my family, my memories, and our good fortune. I pray that I retain this ability to be Present in each moment, regardless of the bumps and detours Life unfailingly provides...
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